“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:4-7
Paul closes his letter to the church at Philippi with these meaningful instructions. While we can apply them to ourselves as individuals, they are directives to the Philippian community. As a body of believers, Paul wanted the Philippians to:
- Maintain a spirit of joy
- Create a reputation for sensibility
- Shun worry
- Be grateful
- Bring their concerns, desires, and plans before God in prayer
This kind of church culture doesn’t happen by accident. It is created and nurtured.
Here are 10 ways you can establish a culture of joyful prayer in your church.
1. Set clear goals for prayer.
Having a season of focused emphasis on prayer is fantastic, but if you really want it to have an impact, you need to set clear goals. It is not enough to say, “We need to pray more.” You need to set a vision for what that is and how it will be measured.
A couple of example goals might be:
- Getting a percentage of your church to make a written commitment to an additional 15 minutes of prayer a day.
- Doubling attendance at your prayer meeting in the next year.
If you want to see concrete improvements, set explicit goals.
2. Focus on baby steps.
When it comes to prayer, we all have a tendency to set lofty goals and then lose interest when we don’t meet them. If you want to create lasting change, set baby steps. Don’t discount small, incremental steps forward—that’s how you create momentum.
That means that instead of throwing together an hour-long prayer meeting, gather people together for 15 minutes before the service. Get people to commit to adding a modicum of prayer onto their current discipline. If someone is not praying at all, five minutes a day is a huge improvement and can give them a sense of accomplishment.
3. Showcase answered prayers and testimonies.
We cannot overlook vicarious experience. The more people are exposed to stories about the life-changing power of prayer, the more they will believe that prayer is important.
You can solicit congregational stories about answered prayers from the pulpit, through email, and through your social media accounts. Once you have a handful of good stories, you can sprinkle these testimonies throughout your church services.
4. Find local issues that impassion your church.
Whether it is troubled businesses, struggling families, or the needs of local ministries and organizations, it is likely that many people in your church are impacted by these issues or know someone who is. Keeping your church aware of pressing needs in your local community can give prayer a much-needed jump start.
5. Have church members open or close services in prayer.
A lot of people are uncomfortable with praying in public. Some people are afraid that they are going to say something silly or others have to overcome a fear of public speaking. It can be helpful for them to see their peers doing it (especially when they’re nervous too).
Obviously, you never want to push someone to pray if they do not want to, but with some encouragement and preparation, most people will take that step of faith.
6. Make prayer a significant part of membership.
Does your church membership process include a required class? Why not devote some of that class time to helping people understand what prayer is, the role it plays in the kingdom, and how their prayer life can contribute to creating a more vibrant Christian community?
Sermons about prayer are wonderful, but a session like this encourages engagement and allows for more questions.
7. Keep a church prayer list.
Prayer lists let everyone know what needs to pray about, and they have been around for centuries because they are so effective. You can keep your prayer list on your website, your church app, an email list, or start a text group that receives updates.
Talk about the prayer list at every opportunity and talk to members to get stories that can be used as encouraging testimonies.
8. Invite people to pray after the service.
Just because the service is over does not mean that everyone needs to leave. You can start an after-service prayer time where people can share their needs and pray for each other.
Start by identifying a prayer team who joins you up front after the message. This team can pray for church members who have been moved or convicted during the service. With some nurturing, this can grow into a dynamic post-service prayer time.
9. Form prayer groups around specific interests.
It is a lot easier to get people to pray when they are passionate. That’s why it is helpful to build teams around specific concerns. These groups can pray separately or meet regularly to pray together. You can build designated prayer teams around areas like:
- Children and youth ministries
- Growth and evangelism
- Leadership development
- Worship services
10. Train people to pray for each other immediately.
In the course of regular church interactions, we are exposed to each other’s needs. Typically we express concern and promise to pray for each other. One of the most critical changes you can encourage in your church is for people to pray for each other immediately and then follow it up with more prayer later. This makes the act of praying a natural part of our lives together and not something we only do at designated times or in the comfort of our own homes.
You can facilitate this change by modeling it. When someone is sharing a concern with you, pray with them right there. It does not have to be long; it can be quick and discreet. Get your leadership team, staff, and volunteers to begin doing this as well. It will make a huge difference!
Join the Spiritual Capital prayer team
CDF is committed to helping churches grow. Offering churches Spiritual Capital is one of the ways that we fulfill our mission. Learn more about how you can join our prayer team and partner with CDF to provide Spiritual Capital to churches.